The Public Votes on that Horrid “Fullscreen DVD” Nonsense.

Okay look folks. I’ll say it right outta the can so you can catch my “bias” and “propaganda” right outta the heap:

Fullscreen DVDs are silly and dumb. No really. Imagine this a sec: If your girl/boyfriend or husband/wife or child/nephew/neice made you a nice, pretty drawing and then some dork ripped up the page so you could only see a little more than half of the artwork your “precious person” made for you, you’d be pretty pissed off I bet, right? Yeah Exactly. Ever get ticked when someone’s head blocks so much as 10% of the screen in a movie theatre?? Yeah? Well, imagine that. I guess we’ll just march out to the store and buy the movie on fullscreen DVD and voluntarily snip almost 40% of the entire picture away. Cause guess what? That’s what you’re doing! Sound Stupid? You’re right.

Those “black bars” you don’t like? Well, they are there because, in case you’ve never noticed, TVs and movie screens are different SHAPES. And in order to see the entire….. oh… what’s that word.. ..ah! .. PICTURE.. the “movie screen shape” has to fit into your nearly-square TV shape. – And if the movie is “filling” your entire TV shape, you’re cutting away a HUGE part of the… oh geez.. I lost that word too.. oh yes, THE MOVIE!!!!

Today, the Internet Movie Database ran one of those “non-scientific” public opinion polls entitled “Should Studios Abandon “fullscreen” DVD Production? Which of course, is an obvious “yes”. At the time of viewing, 5783 people voted.. here are the results:

You know what the most disturbing thing is? that over 20% saw GOOD reason as to why studios should continue slicing 40% of the movie they’re watching, away! – And you 8.9% “no opinion-ers?” Yeah, just say Fullscreen sucks, okay? Because it does. Thanks.

Oh! And for those that say you like “fullscreen” because you like the picture “being Bigger”? — I offer you this earth-shattering idea instead of cutting away the film’s picture: Sit Closer! ~~SHOCK!!~~ Cue Thunderous “Tense Moment” Music!! : Dumm-Dumm-Duuhhhhhh!!!!!

(Case excepted for buying TV shows on DVD. For reasons I won’t explain lest you be completely crack-wracked.)

40 thoughts on “The Public Votes on that Horrid “Fullscreen DVD” Nonsense.

  1. Hey Mr. Boseley.

    You do of course realizes that your version of “full 42 inches of film” means that they’re chopping off the left and right hand sides of the movie right?

    So you see… full screen means you’re not seeing the whole movie because they have to chop off the sides to make it fit on your square TV.

    What’s the point in watching a movie if you can’t see the whole movie?

    Only with wide screen do you see the WHOLE frame.


  2. and what do you mean closer! I dont want to watch a letterbox,i want to watch a film.Whats the point of having half someones head cut off just so you can see all their left foot? duhh dimmme barr

  3. how can you justify widescreen? ive got a 42 inch screen tv and when i get dvds i want to watch 42 inches of film! I dont want giant black gaps at the top and bottom of the screen.I think you need brain therapy. Long live fullscreen,widescreen is pants

  4. OK… some movie history here…

    Films, as previously stated, are much older than television (first film made in 1895).

    Films were/still are shot on 35 mm film. The image on the film was/still is SQUARE.

    TV’s got their shape (academy aspect ratio 4:3) from the “silent film era” (1895~1930)

    After WWII, troops started coming home and moving to the suburbs and starting familys. Tv’s were coming in to play and as a result of living further from the theatere, and broadcast tv becoming popular, there was a sharp decline in movie attendance. The movie industry needed a gimick to get people back. To keep movies from being shown on TV, the changed the aspect ratio to 16:9. They also began subliminal bashing of TV in films. Portraying people who watch TV as losers, and various other ploys. They also began showing films in color. (FYI: 95% of movies from silent era were SHOT in B&W, but the film was colored by hand frame by frame.)

    To change the aspect ratio, they use techniques like Cinemascope. A special lense is used to distory the captured image and to store it on the 35 MM film. Then a lense is used to “correctly” project the image on the screen.

    I used to dislike widescreen too because of the “black bars”. Until I took a basic film class at college. I have since grown to hate fullscreen with a passion. The composition of each frame is important when viewing the movie. Body language, distance of the characters, background items, etc are all important and are played with just to show in FULLSCREEN (btw, I think they call it fullscreen to try to trick consumers, FULL sounds like you are “getting more”).

    Like most people, I dont have a widescreen tv either. And I probably wont get one for quite a while (until I get my student loans paid the hell down) I have a 48″ bigscreen TV thats going on about 10 years old now. I watch my movies on it or my laptop (15″ screen) and I hardly notice the “black bars” at all. I still have to convince my friends & family why fullscreen sucks so bad. My brother in law is a Star Wars freak, and couldn’t find out why Phantom Menace just wasn’t the same at home… fullscreen!

    Find a film class at a college and go. Most are so crowded you can probably go without actually taking the class or even being a student. You’ll learn more than you’d imagine.

  5. I Love movies. I can stay glued to a T.V. set for hours if I have really good movies to watch. When I watch movies, I focus on the subject of the move as much as I do the picture. I like to bring something away from it other that a visual memory.

    A good comparison would be judging a book by it’s cover. Are you going to pick a book that looks “pretty” or are you going to pick the book that has contents that will interest you?

    Movies are the same in that respect. If it doesn’t interest us, we probably will not make an effort to watch it.

    I prefer full screen movies in my home because I have the “traditional t.v.” I have 3 and none of them came from Wal-Mart and unforturnately, none of them cost a low $189 either. But like the average American, I can not offord to replace 3 perfectly good tvs that are only a few years old because the film companies have decided that there are only widescreen viewers out there.

    I have went to a theater to see a movie and liked it so well that I buy it when it comes out on DVD. I have never felt like I was cheated out of anything because I watch it at home on DVD in the full screen version. I am excited when I go into a store and the most recently released movie is in a display with widescreen and full screen versions because I have an option.

    I know that I will just have to choke down whatever choice is handed to me in the end. After all, you can’t buy full-screen if they stop making it. BUT, think of it this way, do you really want to drive a 4 door luxury sedan when what your really want is a sports car? Just because the best features are in the full size car? I don’t think so.

  6. Well Jason, apparently you have not learned a thing from Hitlers reign, such as how ramming your self serving beliefs down everyones throat and immediately slamming anyone who would dare to disagree with you, is not acceptable behavior. Now I realize you are trying to make your self feel better about your pathetic existence by brow beating any one who may not share your opinions. And no doubt you still have the price tags on your TV and stereo trying in vain to impress your friends(assuming you have any) with how much you spent, which I guess is necessary as you sure seem to be completely devoid of any interpersonal skills, which would preclude getting friends in the usual way. For crying out loud it’s a movie!!! Maybe if you spent a little more time in the real world and not so much in the fantasy world of movies, you might realize that people have different opinions, not right or wrong just different. I don’t know how you can see your TV anyway, with your head so far up your a**. I guess the stereo must be up real loud so you can hear it.

  7. 4:3… 16:9

    if these were $ amounts what what u rather have?

    too bad the A-team DVDs weren’t filmed in widescreen…

  8. The WebTV comment wasn’t aimed my way was it? I’m a little corn-fused about that one….

    If so, I don’t have a WebTV….Hell no….

  9. I know….It’s lonely when your the only one in the Heckeling group. Thought you might want to join me in the “I’m not smart…but I’m smarter than you club”

  10. whoa dude…

    You’ve got a lot of thoughts there..
    I know this might blow your mind but…

    I was laughing because I thought your sentence was funny. And when I read it, I laughed.
    That’s it.

  11. Day-vuh,
    Am I wrong? Isn’t this the place where you can tell someone how you really feel. We have all been called out in public….been humilitated….but on the same note…we have all been on the receiveing end of a conversation where our self thought IQ goes up just from listening to anothers opinion of something….I just said it. Case in point….My Girlfriend,the one I live with….actually asked me what was bigger $1,500 or $15,000? What! I’m reproducing with you? Christ…I wanted to saw off her skull cap and see what was in there. All I’m sayin is…..opposing views is fine….but telling me the Pro’s of Full Screen is like telling me Hitler was good for the jew’s….

  12. “Pandering to the low brow Wal Mart Intellect while they are typing comments to MovieBlog on their WebTV key pad is…..wrong. ”


  13. Neil…..while I might not have had the proper response….you too must of shrugged your shoulders and made the “Poo-Poo” face when you read his comments. I’m just saying it out loud. Calling a spade a spade is all I was doing. Don’t tell me why Full Screen is better….by trying to give an arguement “For” Full Screen only shows what little knowledge someone has…..the fact that someone would even say “Wide Screen” cuts the picture only means to me….YOU ARE Trying to speak on things you knwo nuttin about. There is no opposing view that would make sense to ANYONE that knows anything about the subject. Pandering to the low brow Wal Mart Intellect while they are typing comments to MovieBlog on there WebTV key pad is…..wrong.

  14. Or we can just wait for high def to take over the market. It’s a widescreen format, so you can expect all the 4:3 equipment to disappear within the next 5-10 years. You won’t be able to buy old style NTSC tvs for much longer.

  15. Hi James,

    Yes, I did assume that. And you’re right. Sometimes you can’t get them in widescreen. My real point is that you can’t go around calling the studios stupid or the consumers stupid. Nobody is going to care what you think after they get called stupid. The studios will continue to make full screen releases. Why? Are they stupid? Of course not. It’s because they make money doing it. If 60% of my sales (making that number up) come from full screen and I’m a studio decision maker, I’m sure as hell not going to die on the sword of movie purity to only release widescreen.

    So that leaves us with the consumer. Are they stupid? Not nearly as stupid as you may (not sure if you do but your post would indicate so) think. Many a company has bit the dust assuming that their customers wants or needs were not “right” and that they should force the issue one way or another. Thinking consumers are stupid is the fastest way to bankruptcy. But I digress. Consumers need to be shown that there are benefits to widescreen. Unfortunately these benefits start to disappear (along with the rest of the picture due to size) when a family room TV gets much below 27″. At that point Full screen makes sense because despite the fact you are loosing a large portion of the screen at least what you can see is big enough to actually enjoy.

    Now, I’m somewhat of a purist. I always buy Widescreen. I think it’s unconscionable to chop off the screen and do Pan and Scan. It’s just wrong. I agree. So how do we fix it? Certainly not by calling people stupid and telling them how un-enlightened they are for not being infected with our particular form of geekery. Some people may be persuaded by the logical arguments that we make. Others will shrug their shoulders.

    The real reform will occur when the vast majority of the market is convinced that a widescreen TV is the way to go for a broad cross section of TV viewing purposes (i.e. Sports, Movies, and Documentaries etc.) For this to happen prices have to come down and the manufacturers have to convince the average Joe that it‚Äôs something he needs or is better than the ‚Äúold style‚Äù TV. Once the broad majority of homes have a Widescreen TV *then* you’ll see your all Widescreen DVD release.

    Sorry for the rant. I don’t mean to offend.

  16. Jim, that link off your site kicks ass … if you want to take a good look at why we care about this stuff, check out this page and their side by side comparisons of widescreen and full screen images. It’s pretty dramatic.

  17. I got into a near fist-fight with a fellow Wal-Mart shopper in the DVD section…I overheard him telling his wife “those stupid black bars cut off the top of their heads and i just don’t like them. get the fullscreen version.” Now me, I have a big mouth…I couldn’t help but say “obviously you don’t know much about widescreen…Let’s go back to basic shapes from kindergarten….The movie is on a rectangle, the TV is a square…Hmmm…of COURSE you won’t see all of the movie on the TV….” Ummmm, yeah….Me and my big mouth, I am THAT hardcore of a movie geek that I felt the need to inform him of his error…Next time I’ll probably get shot, he he he he….

  18. Another random thought in Glass’s head…”mmmmmm….If I got all Full Screen Movies…I could buy that 15 inch tv for $139 at Wal Mart and Save even more…..”

  19. Hey Glass……you prove my point about the Wal Mart Mentality……..Unless YOU could buy a wide screen for $199 at balls mart….you wouldn’t be interested in the technology…as cheap as possible right? I can hear what goes on in your head right now…..”I paid almost $200 for this tv and then they cut of 2 inches at the top and 2 inches at the bottom…..thats a 15 inch tv now….IM BEIN CHEATED!!!!” Here is my advice….spend less on your car and more on your movies…and then you will appriciate more.

  20. Oh … and just as a point of fact theater screens can be adjusted to any viewing ratio. They have to be to suit all of the different widescreen ratios, ’cause there is a very broad range of viewing ratios that directors use for different reasons. If a director really wanted something projected in a 4:3 ratio there’s no reason they couldn’t do that and have the theater screen sized accordingly. The fact that directors shoot in that ratio very rarely – as Dy-vuh pointed out it only happens if they’re shooting on video – is pretty much all the proof you need that directors just don’t like 4:3.

  21. Films are in widescreen because it more closely simulates how we actually see things … the widescreen format fills your peripheral vision as well as the center and makes for a more convincing illusion. You always see the edges of a television image and that dilutes the experience where with a film if you’re focusing on the middle of the image the wider format completely occupies your peripheral as well. This is why IMAX is as much more effective than conventional widescreen as widescreen is more effective than full frame.

    And no, none of this is just because the screen is larger in a theater … your eye focuses down to the size of the image and your peripheral sight adjusts accordingly. Having a larger screen helps some, but it ultimately comes down to viewing ratio and our natural range of sight is much wider than it is tall …

  22. Glasseyerod,

    First off, remember that Film came first. Television was made almost FIFTY years later. And the first televisions weren’t exactly widescreen capable, so they had to make-do.
    Film has always been and will be the original format for motion picture. So in a way, television STILL hasn’t caught up to film technology.

    Well, I have two other simple suggestions for you:
    1) widescreen has more broad scope and, likely, though I’m not a director of photography, likely has more flexible options when shooting different lights, speeds and ranges.

    and 2): (and this is a biggie)

    – People Pay Individually to see it on a Big Screen. – I can turn the television on for free.

    and if not free, I pay the cable company per month for access. Before the dawn of cable (yes, there was a time) everyone just had a standalone television – maybe with a big steel antenna sticking out of their roof. A director isn’t gonna get a chunk of money because someone’s watching their film on a television in a trailer park.

    – If the big screen was just a big television – everyone would say “why don’t I just buy a bigger television and sit close?”

    The only film I’ve seen in fullscreen on the big screen was Blair Witch Project because that was part of the gimmick. — If a movie house started projecting fullscreen movies, I’d never go there.

  23. I do like widescreen. And I do realise that this what I am going to say is not as true today as it was 10 years ago now that there are more wodescreen TVs and dvds, but if directors know that eventually the movie will be going to the small screen either on tv, vhs, or dvd then why do they film them in widescreen. I realise that most of the money made is from theatre tickets sales, but there will be a significantly larger viewer base watching the movie on the small screen in fullscreen format. By filming it square I would think that the director would be open to a whole new cinematic style. A genre that might even benifit from it would be a Sci-Fi space movie, the picture would not be depicting space to have a strictly horizontal view. A spaceship could now attacted from above, and maybe they will not be all situated on the same plane. I think I started rambling, but my point is if there a couple of thousand screens that suit widescreen format and a couple of million that suit full screen, then why is it that movies are filmed widescreen.

  24. And Dougie … if a film is shot in cinemascope – the widest option – it’s at a screen ratio of about 2.35:1. When you pan and scan you cut that down to 1.33:1. That means you lose just less than HALF the picture. That’s not insignificant. At all. It means you miss a lot of detail work, you miss a lot of the actors’ work as their cropped out most of the time if they’re not speaking, it means you get false camera movements put in as the pan and scan process moves the image around to try and capture the part of the screen where the ‘important’ stuff is happening, and it means that the film will visually look pretty much like crap. Think about it: the director has framed their shots with a specific screen ratio in mind. When you lop half of the image out your framing has just been destroyed. And frankly, any good director will use the entire frame. You can’t cut image without losing significant parts of the film.

    The classic example of what happens when you pan and scan is Ghostbusters. Go rent both versions. Watch the widescreen version and keep track of Ernie Hudson – that’d be the black guy from Oz. Then watch the full frame and do the same thing. You’d hardly know Hudson was in the film if all you’d seen was the pan and scan. EVERY single time there’s a four shot of the cast Hudson gets cropped out. Every single time.

    And people have been griping about this for years, actually. The only reason panning and scanning has gone on for so long is that studios already had pan and scan video transfers of their films for television broadcast and they didn’t want to shell out the bucks to do a proper widescreen one as well. That trend has started to change now because more and more television shows are being shot initially in widescreen thanks to the forced move to high definition (which is a widescreen format) in the US … people have just generally become more aware of what’s being lost and more demanding that they get full value when paying for a film.

  25. Dougie,

    I know a few directors, and to answer your question:

    “Don’t directors, like humans look at what’s right there in the middle?”
    – No actually, they don’t. Humans don’t either.
    Assuming directors and humans are different things.

  26. There is something here that you did not mention. Some movies actually show MORE in the full screen version than in the widescreen. One example I can think of is Terminator 3. The movie was shot in full screen and for the widescreen edition it was cropped. I really don’t understand it either, but some movies really are made this way. That’s the kind of thing that really makes my panties bunch up.

    Normally, however, I would much rather watch a widescreen DVD rather than a full screen one. I don’t care what they say. Less most certainly is NOT more. More is more.

  27. no, but if you watch something fullscreen on the widescreen tv you’ll get black bars on either side rather than on the top and bottom.

  28. They didnt complain about it before because for the most part, VHS and even Laser Disk was in full screen.

    There are MANY situations where fullscreen no only chops of what your peripheral vision would catch but will actually chop off important parts of the film.

    ET’s cameo in The Phantom Menace cannot be seen in the fullscreen version. Many times when two people are speaking who are too far apart on the screen, the fullscreen version will chop the other out and then “pan” over to the other character in time to hear his line.

    This is called Pan and Scan. Part of the fullscreen editing. The editors decide what is more important to look at and cut off the rest. Its not just aimed in the middle.

    Myself, I prefer to view the movie the way it was meant to be seen. In the theatre.

    And you don’t need a widescreen tv to view them. Those black bars are not THAT distracting.

    Fortunately, the only TV series that I collect on DVD are presented in widescreen to begin with. Genius I say.

    Wave of the future. Widescreen TV’s will take over the industry, all tv shows will be filmed and shown in widescreen, and people will wonder why we bothered with a square tv to begin with.

  29. So, if there’s all this important stuff going on in the far left and right of the screen, why is it in the far left and right? Don’t directors, like humans look at what’s right there in the middle? I don’t know about you but I don’t use my peripheral vision if something’s important and worth seeing, I look right at it.

    So as someone who can’t afford a “widescreen TV”, I enjoy “fullscreen” DVD movies on my TV, just like people have enjoyed fullscreen VHS movies on their TVs for oh about 30 years now.

    Funny nobody ever complained about that before….

  30. The problem is…..stupid movie watchers tend to think that Wide Screen is cutting off something or that they hate those Annoying bars…..I does not matter what the minority…intellegent,educated,well versed movie watcher wants….studio’s will cater to the masses….you know……the guy with a $189.00 Wal mart special TV with a $29.99 Sound Technique DVD with two buttons….Eject and Play.
    Ohhhhh and it is probably “hooked” up to a really shitty 1987 stereo with Dual Cassette Decks…..what I’m tryin to say……bland sells to the uneducated masses

  31. Apart from the very few directors who decide afterwards that they’re down with the fullscreen versions of their films, I think the most important issue remains that fullscreen versions of movies alter the movie that the film makers originally created–their work of art. Could you ever imagine somebody “resizing” a Picasso or a Van Gogh for display convenience purposes? It would be unheard of. This is why it’s not about being a “purist,” but rather about preserving the films in the name of artistic integrity. Studios have no right to change other people’s films. Just my two cents…

  32. You still get the product you *do* like

    You’re assuming here that this does, in fact, always happen. I know a number of films that have been released on DVD in fullscreen versions only, with no widescreen alternative available. Then, of course, you have the converse problem: fullscreen films being “widescreened” for DVD. This afternoon I was watching Peter Weir’s The Plumber, made for TV in 1978 when widescreen was not even thought of for TV. On DVD it’s been cropped to 1.85 instead of being shown in the original 1.33.

    The real problem lies with directors who are happy with the fullscreen versions of their films. Stanley Kubrick was apparently perfectly happy with the full-screen versions of his films, and so is James Cameron. While I respect their choices, I reserve the right to think they’re being foolish…

  33. I think full screen DVDs are silly too, but that’s just because I like widescreen (for all the reasons you mentioned). But honestly, why the hell do you care if studios continue to produce and make money off a product you don’t like? You still get the product you *do* like, and other people who don’t care about movies as much as you and I do get the crapy version *they* like. What’s the scandal? Not everyone is a purist.

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